5 Types of Reactions to Celebrity Suicides And Why They Need to Stop
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5 Types of Reactions to Celebrity Suicides And Why They Need to Stop

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5 Types of Reactions to Celebrity Suicides And Why They Need to Stop

For those of you who have been in a coma or recently begun replacing your three meals a day with large doses of NyQuil, the thoroughly loved and respected comedy actor Robin Williams (likely) took his life. Although saddening to be sure, this is not a new phenomenon. Every few months or so, a well-known and well-liked celebrity passes away, and each time, we go absolutely bananas over it. Social media comes to a grinding halt to meme about it and awkward goobers who don’t know how to start a polite conversation with girls finally have an interesting topic to work with.

I’m not here to judge that phenomenon as a whole, but there are certain specific reactions to every celebrity death that need to stop.

1. “There’s no way this could happen…[insert celebrity] was so funny/quirky/rich/talented/[various other idealistic traits]!”

I’m not sure if this is common knowledge, but if not, it needs to be. Excessive amounts of money, popularity, talent, and the ability to smile does not inherently make a person happy. We seem to be constantly taken aback by suicides as if the act is only capable by people who shop exclusively at Hot Topic and have long black hair. We tend to evaluate whether a person is happy by thinking of how close they keep to our ideal image of happiness and deny the possibility of their having personal demons if they fit it well. Any type of person could be unhappy, even and especially the ones who appear to have the whole world in their palms. We need to stop pretending that suicides by people who were good at smiling and spending money are exceptions to the rule and be aware and sensitive to the fact that anyone is susceptible to depression at any time. 

2. “People need to stop treating [insert celebrity] like a hero. Don’t people know that he/she [was a drug addict/was richer than God/shot spitballs in class]?” 

Do I think that certain atrocities committed by celebrities are justified by a good album or a set of good movies? No. However, if people are going to choose to be upset over the death of a celebrity (which they will), don’t spoil it for them by throwing a bucket of pigeon spit over their admiration. You don’t go up to a kid at his grandpa’s funeral and tell him that the old geezer used to cheat at poker and only gave out mints on Halloween. You don’t need to understand exactly why people let celebrity deaths get to them...just let it get to them (as long as it’s within reason). It doesn’t actually affect you in any way at all. Let them move on from it in three days (which they will), and then tell them about all the terrible things their hero did. 

3. “I can’t believe this is happening...this is seriously the saddest day of my life.” 

Nope. It’s not. I think that celebrities often have the opportunity to inspire and enlighten us (yes, even in positive ways) and we can have a personal attachment to their work. Maybe you and your mom used to listen to Michael Jackson and when he died you felt a little pang of sadness as the man responsible for a big part of your life was no longer there. But unless you were one of those snobby kids in elementary school who got to meet celebrities every week because your dad was an important jerk, you did not personally know them. There is no way that the passing of a man or woman you had never even seen quantifies as a full-on tragic event in your life. And if it does, then be so thankful that you must be unfamiliar with an actual personal tragedy. 

4. “Too soon?” 

Chances are, yeah, armpit-wipe, too soon. I understand that the death of a celebrity isn’t exactly a calamity, so it’s not that your jokes are even offensive. They’re just so annoying. And you know it. It’s why you ask, “too soon?” after you make it with your lips pursed in a snide smirk in full douche-mode. These may even be ok if every 1 in 10 were remotely funny. But they are not, and they exist solely to annoy other human beings, so, if only for comedy’s sake, stop. 

5. “I can’t believe people are talking about the death of [insert celebrity] instead of [insert important and upsetting news story]!” 

I agree that international news, domestic issues, and topics that can actually affect the day to day well-being of citizens and our world as a whole should be discussed more than a celebrity who none of us knew personally. However, the keyword is should, not will. If you have a recurring expectation that our culture isn’t obsessed with celebrities and less inclined to listen to really upsetting news than Radiohead is of only being remembered for “Creep”, then I invite you to take a healthy swig of cynicism. People are always going to choose to talk about the celebrity, and that has been the case since people went to see Jesus because they heard he did cool magic tricks. It comforts people in a world that’s much bigger and more demanding than one can handle easily to focus on the nostalgic aspects a few songs or a few movies have had on their lives. Sometimes people want to talk about how Jumanji made them really happy as kids instead of unending political corruption. Maybe they know spitting air about it isn’t going to solve anything, but a nice conversation about a silly movie can make someone happy, if only for a moment. I agree that world issues are more important and should be talked about, but to expect people to drop entertainment escapism in exchange for another bleak reminder of our screwed up world is a fruitless endeavor and not worth getting mad about. 

It’s naïve to pretend that celebrities are just normal people with different jobs--they represent something larger to a greater number of people. When they pass, it is an event, if not exactly a national catastrophe. The best way to honor them is a brief and kind word in humble and warm remembrance of what they added to people’s lives, because entertainment, believe it or not, is important to people.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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